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Inspired beginnings: Part I

Nice Group office office at Daisy Business Park in New Cross

How it all started

Graduating with a degree in Business Computing, Martin started his career in the tech sector. After working for others for a bit, he set up his own web design business. With the business going well, he sold it to a larger company and joined the acquiring company’s leadership team. In 2002, he used the proceeds (and his new mortgageable salary) plus a £10k loan from his mum to buy a three-bedroom house in North Woolwich. Martin reconfigured it to add bedrooms while retaining a compact open-plan kitchen/dining/living room. He lived in one of the rooms and rented the others. As house prices rose, he remortgaged to buy new properties and repeated the process. After a couple of years, Martin had achieved financial independence and quit his job to work in property full time.

Martin’s first property business

Martin developed his room rental portfolio into a professional house share platform which he branded Nice Room (the main focus of his first property company Nice Group), which through two joint ventures with large fund managers enabled him to build portfolios worth more than £150m. Still in his twenties, Martin was leader of a multi-million-pound business renowned for being a fun place to work with a strong work hard/ play hard ethic. This ‘ethic’ was instilled right from the off. In the early years, NICE’s directors all worked and lived in the same apartment block: Western Beach Apartments in Silvertown.

In Nice Group, Martin and his colleagues/ business partners built up a substantial enterprise with a magical atmosphere centred around their office at Sylvan Industrial Estate off the Old Kent Road in Peckham. It was a 1920s warehouse conversion which they renamed NICE Business Park (pictured above). Staff actually wanted to come to work, bold plans were made for creating a new asset class for affordable young professional accommodation – and there was much, much, more to come.

Not a NICE end but an Inspired beginning

In 2008, disaster struck as Martin and NICE Group became one of many victims of the credit crunch. After a gruelling period of redundancies through 2008, Nice Group was effectively wiped out in March 2009 when its financing was pulled with just 24 hours’ notice. Worse still, the company was due to hit profitability again that month.

Martin was forced to file for bankruptcy losing everything in the process. to keep themselves ticking over. With Martin bankrupt, when an opportunity came up to buy back his personal house share portfolio from the administrators, Martin’s now wife Magdalena stepped in to negotiate the deal. Magdalena sold a property in Poland and the couple borrowed what they could from friends and family to complete the deal. This led to the birth of a new company: Inspired Asset Management.

To be continued…

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